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Tom Hill looks at why hiring a local guide, despite GPS and the internet – even in our over-explored island – is still money well spent.

Our group paused at the high point of the ride. Huge wind turbines sprouted from the heather like giant white tulips. A bitter autumnal wind pushed and tore at rain clouds, granting us rays of golden light from the low sun then closing the curtains as an icy squall raced through. Despite the very obvious human impact on the landscape, it felt as though we were in the middle of nowhere; we hadn’t seen a single person since leaving the marked trails of Glentress an hour or so ago. We discovered a seemingly endless network of pristine forest roads, perfect for gravel exploration, granting views to Edinburgh in the north and linking into drovers’ roads that existed long before the commercial planting now below us.

I was in the Tweed Valley for a few days, invited by the newly established, and ‘does what it says on the tin’ monikered Tweed Valley Guides to be shown the best of what the area has to offer – whether that be big days on a mountain or gravel bike, or hitting some of the best enduro-style trails in the country.

Beyond the excuse of back-to-back days of riding after a few too many weeks at a desk, I was intrigued to discover a little more about not just Tweed Valley Guides, but UK guiding in general. For those of us with the time and inclination, there is little mystery to finding the tracks I started this story with. They are clearly marked on the Ordnance Survey map, and it’s easy enough to link them into a circular loop. GPS devices provide a comfort blanket to the navigationally challenged. On the mountain bike side, the unofficial built trails that the valley is increasingly becoming known for are meticulously documented in apps like Trailforks and Strava. At first glance, it’s not necessarily an easy job to explain why you should pay someone to show you around when technology will do half the job for you.

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About Singletrack

Editorial: Echo Chambers International Adventure: Folgefonna Sunrise UK Riding: Guiding Light Column: Jason Miles International Adventure: You Should Never Go Back… Or Should You? Interview: Chris Akrigg Column: Finding The Lines Classic Ride: Cornish Classic Column: Ode To Climbs Bike Test: Staff Rides Interview: Cedric Gracia International Adventure: What’s Zermatt’er With You? Column: One Last Run International Adventure: The Frigid Secrets Of Ukraine Last Word: Game Plan